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William Wood Gerhard papers

Identifier: MSS 2/183

Scope and Contents

This small collection of W. W. Gerhard's papers, 1834-1845, documenting his education and early career, contains letters received and sent, some correspondence of his brother, lawyer Benjamin Gerhard, and a few receipted bills and miscellaneous items. The bulk of the collection is composed of letters sent to Gerhard, 1834-1837, from colleagues, many of whom studied with him in Paris, The letters, several in French, describe medical student life and conditions there. Included are letters from A. H. Cenas, Etienne Rufz de Lavison, G. Robert Smith, and Thomas Stewardson. The collection also includes correspondence, 1843, between lawyers Benjamin Gerhard and R. G. Ellis concerning financial support of an illegitimate child. W. W. Gerhard was interested in this case.


  • 1834 - 1845


Biographical / Historical

William Wood Gerhard was born on 23 July 1809. He married a Miss Dobbyn in 1850; they had three children. Gerhard died on 28 April 1872.

Gerhard received an A.B. from Dickinson College in 1826 and an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1830. He studied medicine under Joseph Parrish, then in 1830 or 1831, Gerhard went to Paris to study with Chomel, Andral, and Louis. He returned to Philadelphia in 1833 and became resident physician, 1834-1836, and visiting physician, 18451868, at Pennsylvania Hospital and lectured at Philadelphia Hospital, 1835-1845. He was professor of the institutes of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania from 1838 to 1872. In 1841, Gerhard established dispensary clinics for university students at the Medical Institute of Philadelphia. He retired in 1868.

W. W. Gerhard was known for drawing a distinction between typhus and typhoid fever and his Lectures on the diagnosis, pathology, and treatment of diseases of the chest (1842). He was a member of the Philadelphia Medical Society and a founder and first president of the Pathological Society of Philadelphia. He was elected to fellowship in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1834.

John Redman Coxe was born on 16 September 1773 in Trenton, N.J. and died in Philadelphia on 22 March 1864. Coxe studied medicine under Dr. Benjamin Rush during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 and attended the University of Pennsylvania, which granted him a medical degree in 1794. He furthered his medical studies for two years in London, Paris, and Edinburgh, before returning again to Philadelphia to set up private practice. During the second outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia in 1798, Dr. Coxe was appointed Physician to the Poor by the Board of Health. He served several years as a physician at Pennsylvania Hospital and the Philadelphia Dispensary. Coxe held the positions of Professor of Chemistry (1809-1818) and Professor of Materia Medica and Pharmacy (1818-1835) at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a strong advocate of vaccination and the first to practice this new preventive method in Philadelphia. Dr. Coxe also added to the knowledge of materia medica by cultivating a true jalap plant (1829) and developing a “Hive Syrup” that remained in common use for fifty years. From 1804-1811, Coxe published the first regularly issued periodical in Philadelphia and the second American medical journal, The Medical Museum.

George Bacon Wood was born in Greenwich, New Jersey, on 12 March 1797. He married Caroline Hahn (1805-1867) in 1823. Wood died in Philadelphia on 30 March 1879. Wood attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving an A.B. in 1815 and an A.M. and M.D. in 1818. He studied medicine under Joseph Parrish also. Wood was one of the founders of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1821. He was Professor of Chemistry there (1822-1831), then Professor of Materia Medica and Pharmacy (1831-1835). Wood resigned from the College to become Professor of Materia Medica and Pharmacy at the University of Pennsylvania in 1835. In 1850, he became Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the University and held that position until his retirement in 1860. He was also Attending Physician at Pennsylvania Hospital (1835-1859) and President of the Board of Managers (1874-1879). George B. Wood became a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1827 and was President from 1848 to 1879. He was also President of the American Philosophical Society (1859-1879) and the American Medical Association (1855-1856).

Joseph Parrish was born in Philadelphia on 2 September 1779 to Isaac and Sarah (Mitchell) Parrish. He married Susanna Cox on 20 October 1808; they had eleven children. Parrish died on 18 March 1840 in Philadelphia. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1805 and became a Resident Physician to a temporary yellow fever hospital in Philadelphia, where he set up private practice. Parrish was a Physician to the Philadelphia Dispensary (1806-1812), the Philadelphia Almshouse (1806-1822), and Pennsylvania Hospital (1816-1829). From 1807 to 1810, he delivered a series of popular lectures on chemistry. Parrish also helped found Wills Hospital and served as President of its Board of Managers (1833-1840). Among his prominent writings are Practical Observations on Strangulated Hernia and Some of the Diseases of the Urinary Organs (1805 and 1836) and an appendix for the first American edition of Lawrence’s Treatise on Ruptures (1811). Parrish was an active member of the Philadelphia Medical Society, serving as its Vice-President in 1806. He was elected a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia on 6 November 1810 and served as its Vice-President (1835-1840).


.4 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The source of this collection of W. W. Gerhard's papers is unknown. The papers were was formerly housed in the CPP Autograph Collection.
William Wood Gerhard papers
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States